PracticalDad:  Knowin’ How to Do Stuff…

One of the better, truer commercials on television is actually for ED – and no, I don’t have a bathtub in the backyard.  In these ads, guys in their 40s are presented with different situations and simply handle them as the announcer comments, when you reach a certain age, you just know how to do stuff…Pulling a horse trailer and the pickup gets stuck in the mud?  Hitch the horses and let them pull you out.  Engine overheating and in the desert?  Just add water at some roadside cafe.


That’s kind of the role of a father as the kids get older and begin to think that they know everything.  Something goes wrong and Dad gets the call and if he’s smart, he takes the opportunity to pass along the institutional knowledge that comes with age, if not with trace teams of horses. 

That’s the situation this morning as Eldest heads off to school in the old car.  Because her schedule actually requires some traveling, she drives an old car and lo and behold, she crawls behind the wheel and turns the ignition and is greeted by the sounds of silence.  The battery is officially dead and will have to be replaced.  Daddy, Mom’s gonna take me to school but can you have the battery fixed for when I get back?  Gotta run, bye!

Yes, but you’ve actually going to do it with me so that you can learn. 

The result was a quick trip to the auto supply store for a battery and then home to assure that I’ve got the sockets that fit the nuts on the battery.  And then…nothing.  When I finally pick up Eldest, it’s back home where she spends maybe 15 minutes replacing the battery – taking into account learning how to use a ratchet set – and then is off again. 

I could honestly have finished the job in less than 10 minutes but it’s more important that Eldest learn how to handle these things in preparation for a future out of the household.  These are the kinds of things that most teens don’t know and would wind up calling home about when they’re off in the real world.  It takes more time and effort, assuring that I’ve got things and that they’re right so that I don’t look like the village idiot, but teaching is ultimately one of the most important things that any father can do for their kids.

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